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The Golden Butt Kick

It ain’t over for me
No it ain’t over for me
I’ma step up my game and get what’s comin’ to me . . .

It Ain’t Over,” from the movie “Hustle and Flow"

Any moment now, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger will sign yet another stop-gap state budget that now incorporates three furlough days per month for most state civil service employees. The possibility of four of five furlough days per month in the next budget cycle looms.

As one of my college friends used to say, “Whoopdee shit.”

If I thought for a moment that every single state employee, whether they work for an agency or the Legislature OR AS A LEGISLATOR, was going to be furloughed three days a month or face equivalent salary cuts, the furloughs might be palatable. If I thought for a moment that the furloughs were a temporary stop-gap measure intended only to close the budget gap, maybe I could get with them.

But I have it on good authority that the furloughs aren’t intended just to deal with short-term budget shortfalls. Au contraire, Pierre stateworker. The furloughs are intended to get rid of stateworkers, period.

The kind folks at the Department of Finance, whose quant jocks have done all the projections to determine how many furlough days it would take to get stateworkers off the payroll without paying unemeployment benefits, refer to the furloughs, with laughter no less, as “The Golden Butt Kick.”

Anyone with any significant history with California civil service knows that in times past, the state has rid itself of excess state workers by offering “The Golden Handshake,” whereby state workers within shooting range of the minimum service credits needed for retirement were given service credits merely for saying an early goodbye to state service. I would presume that many stateworkers were waiting for a Golden Handshake this time around.

Instead, we got The Golden Butt Kick.

And it’s working. My sister who works at a state agency has been seeing an increase in retirement parties where she works. Anyone who can afford to get out of state civil service is going. Attorneys like myself, already underpaid relative to other government attorneys, are looking for opportunities with the federal government or other local entities. It simply doesn’t make sense if you are at the height of your earning years not to look around to see if you have other options, especially if you are highly educated or have special skills. Why take a pay cut if you don’t have to?

And so it goes for me. I’m looking. Consider my butt kicked. It would be sheer financial foolishness for me to continue to subsidize the State of California with my lower wages for stupidity not of my making, especially if I can find something that pays as much as I used to make before the furloughs. I’m not greedy; I just want what I had before. And it would be stupid for me not to look around and see if I can get it.

It’s especially galling for those of us who played by all the financial rules. BMNB and I waited to buy our house until the boom was over. In the interim, we saved our money, cut coupons, shopped at Winco, and made no big ticket purchases other than cars necessary to replace our aging vehicles. We buy furniture at the Habitat for Humanity REstore. We haven’t vacationed since we married. We rarely ever use credit cards. To just sit and let the State of California take money out of my pocket because other people were stupid with their money? I don’t think so.

So, in the words of Terrence Howard’s pimp in “Hustle and Flow,” I’ma step up my game and get what’s comin’ to me. And it ain’t no three-day-a-month furlough.


s-man said…
They said no new tax hikes but as Schwarzenegger said, revenues could drop further. I feel your pain.

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